Thursday, June 30, 2011

Greek Style Eggs

Eggs are my favorite breakfast food and these Greek style eggs are a very tasty way to eat them. Soft, fluffy eggs and the salty bite of feta is a delicious food pairing which I have used before to make quiches as well. 
The recipe is simple and here goes...

Ingredients:

2 large eggs
Pat of butter
3 teaspoons crumbled feta cheese
2 teaspoons milk
1/2 small onion diced finely
Salt (Only a pinch as the feta is also salty)
Pepper

Break the eggs in a bowl and beat well with the milk. Add salt (add just a pinch as the feta is salty) and pepper. 
Heat a non stick pan and add the butter. Add the onions and saute for a minute. Add the egg mixture and when it begins to set on the sides, use a wooden spoon to break the egg and stir to scramble it. When they look slightly runny, they are done as they will continue to cook even when removed from the heat. Remove from heat and sprinkle the feta. It will begin to melt over the eggs. 
Serve immediately with some toasted bread. I had this with a lovely rosemary and olive foccacia and a cup of tea. Heavenly!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Southern Iced Tea

When it rains in Mumbai its heavenly - garam chai and onion bhaji time. But the very next day it is humid and stiflingly hot. On such muggy afternoons this glass of iced tea comes to the rescue. It is sweet with a little caffeine and refreshing... Interestingly I always have iced tea with Chinese food... it perfectly balances the heat of the chili paneer for me. The cream horn in the pic is from one of my favorite Mumbai bakeries - Merwans in Andheri. I lay blame for all my extra kilos (a lot of extra kilos) on their fabulously and freshly baked pastries, eclairs and tarts. I still think they have the best lemon tarts EVER. But I digress. The strength of the tea depends on you and so does the sugar. Adjust to taste. And southern iced teas dont have any fancy lemon, peach or ginseng in them - that's what the Yankees add to it :)

So without much ado...

Ingredients:

2 cups water
2 teaspoons black tea
1 tablespoon sugar (I bleed syrup)
Ice

Boil the water, add the tea. When it reaches desired strength, remove from heat and drain. Add the sugar. Mix to dissolve. Chill. Add ice and sip.... Ahhh....

Also sending it to Serve it - Chilled an event by Denny

Friday, June 24, 2011

Tomato Baskets

Tomato baskets are crispy shells filled with succulent tomatoes and sweet onions. Add a dash of spice and cheese and these are the perfect appetizers.
I fillede them with tomatoes but corn, spinach, mixed peppers and peas would work too. The shells are made of all purpose flour with a little salt added. It is similar to a kachori dough. The portion below makes approx 8 baskets.

Ingredients:

For dough

1 cup All purpose flour (maida)
1/4 cup oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
Water for kneading

For filling

4 medium tomatoes
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
3/4 teaspoon Mix Italian herbs - Basil, Oregano and Parsley
1/2 tablespoon oil
Black pepper
Salt

Mix the flour and oil and mix till it forms a crumb-like texture. When you press the flour between fingers it should clump. Slowly add water to bind into a tight dough. Cover with wet cloth and keep for 10-15 minutes.

In this time, start preparing the filling. Cut the tomatoes in half, deseed and dice. Heat oil in a non-stick pan and add the onions. Saute for 2 minutes and add the green peppers. Cook till both are softened. Add the tomatoes and spices and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. When cooled add half the cheese and keep aside. 
Pre-heat the oven to 400 F (200 C). Portion the dough in 8 equal pieces and roll out into 4 inch rounds. Place these over muffin moulds and press well. I did this as I wanted to make them a little larger, you can also place these inside mini muffin pan for bite-size portions. Blind bake them for about 10 minutes till they start to brown. Remove and cool. The stuff each of the moulds with the tomato stuffing and sprinkle a little cheese over it. Bake again for about 5 minutes to till the cheese starts to melt.

Enjoy hot or warm with a glass of wine or a cup of tea!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Rava Upma

The much-loved, often-made, south Indian breakfast has recently become the toast of the culinary world. Though it often gets upstaged by the medu vada (who doesn't love fried food) and idli, it is made often as breakfast for its ease of cooking and simple ingredients. The veggies I have added are kind of what I had in hand, but feel free to add other vegetables like bell peppers as well. The rava used is the thick / coarse variety.

Ingredients:

1 cup semolina / cream of wheat / rava / sooji
1 small onion finely diced
3/4 cup assorted fresh chopped vegetables (peas, carrots, tomatoes)
1 1/2 tablespoons ghee
1 teaspoon mustard seeds / raee
1 teaspoon cumin seeds / jeera
1 inch knob of ginger finely chopped
2 green chilies
8-10 curry leaves
1/2 cup buttermilk (optional)
Coriander for garnish
Salt

Heat a thick bottomed pan. When hot, dry roast the rava till slightly browned / beige in color. Remove from heat and keep aside. 
In the same pan, heat the ghee. Add the raee, jeera, chilies, ginger, curry leaves and onions. Saute on medium heat till onions are translucent. Next add the peas and carrots and cook for about 5 minutes till they have softened / fork tender. Next add the tomatoes and cook for a minute or so. Finally add the rava, 1 teaspoon salt and buttermilk along with 1/2 cup of water (if using only water add 1 cup of water). The rava will quickly absorb this water. Next add about a 1/4 cup and wait for the rava to absorb it. Add a little more water if the rava is dry and can still absorb water, else it will be come soggy. Check for salt and adjust. 

Serve hot garnished with some chopped coriander and a side of coconut chutney. My husband also likes to add some spicy sev on top for crunch. If you are making this for company or if you like it richer, you can add some cashew nuts sauteed in ghee as well. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Panini / Grilled Sandwich with Pesto, Goat Cheese, Zucchini and Red Pepper

This is a quick and easy panini / grilled sandwich (panini is the Italian word for a sandwich - more here) which can be an evening snack or a meal as well. Red pepper has a sweetness which pairs well with the creamy, salty goat cheese. Zucchini adds an earthiness and pesto gives a nutty pungency to the bite. The ingredients are simple - just pick fresh produce so when you bite into the sandwich the pepper should be crunchy and the pesto should have a pop. The ingredients below are for two panini's. I have used thick slices of Italian bread, but you can use ciabatta or foccacia as well. 
* Goat cheese that I have bought has been circular roll of cheese, just make 8 slices (coins) to spread on the bread about 2 mm thick or as much as you like.

So lets start...

Ingredients:

4 slices fresh Italian bread
2 tablespoons Pesto
1 red bell pepper
6 inch chunk of zucchini
8 slices of Goat cheese*
Dash of EV olive oil 
Butter (optional)
Salt and Pepper

Skin the zucchini and cut into two 3 inch chunks. Now vertically slice these to get long rectangular planks of zucchini. Cut the top and bottom portion of the bell pepper and remove the seeds. Cut it in half and you should get two rectangular portions of the pepper. 

Heat a grill pan (or other) and add the dash of olive oil. Place the zucchini and pepper on it to give it a few grill marks and a little char. 

Take a slice of the bread and spread the goat cheese on it, 4 slices worth. Next place the zucchini and bell pepper, sprinkle some salt and pepper on it. On another slice of bread apply the pesto and cover the sandwich. Heat a panini maker or a non stick pan and place the sandwich on it. Press the sandwich till golden on each side. I used a pan so I covered the sandwich with another plate and put some weight on it to give it the pressed sandwich effect. You can also apply a little butter on the outside for a more golden sheen. 

Serve hot or warm with a tea in the winter and smoothie in the summer! Enjoy!
I am sending this to Red Chilies for a Light Lunch, her series for June and to Srivalli's Sandwich Mela...

Monday, June 13, 2011

Strawberry and Ricotta Stuffed French Toast

I am a pancake person - give me lots of syrup and some fruit on top. And eggs should be savory. But one bite of these and I have a second favorite. I have to say this was an experiment to see how well I could make French toasts and if I would like them with all my favorite things inside. It is inspired by many TV recipes and features so it is difficult to say where TV ends and I start... So here it is... 

Ingredients:

4 thick slices bread
4-6 strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/4 cup (2 tablespoons) ricotta
1 teaspoon sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon milk (or half n half)
Dash of vanilla
Few grates of orange rind
Butter to cook 
Syrup of choice - I like butter and maple

Beat the eggs, milk, vanilla and orange rind together. Keep aside. 
Mix the ricotta with the sugar. Spread half a tablespoon of this ricotta mix on one side of the bread. Arrange strawberry slices on top. Cover with another slice of bread which is spread with half tablespoon ricotta on the inside. Soak in the egg mixture.
Heat a non-stick pan and apply a little butter on it. Place the egg soaked bread on the pan and cook on low heat till the egg is done. Flip and cook the egg on the other side as well. 
Remove from heat, sprinkle some powdered sugar, drizzle some syrup and gobble gobble gobble...

I am sending this to Srivalli's Sandwich Mela...

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Morabba - Gujarati Sweet Mango Pickle / Mango Marmalade

Every summer is reminder not only of the carefree school vacations but also of endless rows of mangoes being peeled, cut, dried, bottled to make pickles for the rest of the year. At my grandmothers house during pickling time, there would be neat rows of mangoes pieces marinated in turmeric and salt, which we cousins would eat surreptitiously so as to not incur the wrath of the elders. Alas no such fun now... My mother usually makes a few select pickles back home which I then carry with me... no more stealing pieces and no more yellow fingers... And I dont pickle either. But this year was an exception as I was in Mumbai and once again was a part of the pickling... Here is the easiest of the lot - a sweet mango pickle called Morabba. Usually this is eaten with spicy parathas or along with meals. Its a big hit with kids. 

Ingredients:

1 kilo raw mangoes - Rajapuri type
2 kilos sugar
3-4 pieces cloves
3-4 2 inch sticks of cinnamon
5-6 pods of green cardamom
Few strands of Kesar (optional)

Wash the mangoes carefully. Peel them and make small pieces. Alternatively, you can also thick grate the mango. Also in India, the shopkeeper will do this for you. 
In a large thick bottomed vessel, mix the sugar and the mango. Heat on stovetop on low heat till the sugar melts and forms a thick syrup. Pour a drop on a plate and check for the consistency, if it forms a single string when pulled between a finger and thumb, it is done. Anything less will spoil the pickle and anything more will crystallize the pickle. Remove from heat and cool. When completely cooled add the spices and mix. Pour into a clean glass jar and let the flavors mingle for atleast a week before eating. 

Enjoy with every meal or even snacks!

P.S: Traditionally, this pickling was done using solar heat. Everyday my mother would put the vessel with the mango and sugar in the sun, covered with a cheesecloth and bring it in the house at sundown. This process continued till the pickle was ready. Now-a-days due to pollution my mother avoids doing this. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Grilled Aloo Stuffed Sandwiches

Having a picnic basket makes any trip more fun. The same can be said about these sandwiches, adding joy to every road trip. Sometimes eaten even before we leave city limits, at other times they have been a saviour when we couldn't find food on the way. The preparation is simple and the filling can be prepped even a day before for quick assembly later on. Only one note: if they are carried on winter, they will stay fine longer. If it's summer be sure to keep them in a cooler and don't store for more than a day. I have used a sandwich maker, if you don't have one they can be made on a flat pan on the stove top too.
I have mostly cooked them for road trips but they make a great breakfast or evening snack as well.

6 slices bread
Butter for brushing
Pepper jack cheese slices (optional)

Make 3 portions out of the filling. Apply chutney on one side of the bread and evenly spread one portion of the filling. Top with a slice of cheese and finish the sandwich with another slice of bread. Butter the outer sides of the sandwich. Place in the sandwich maker and grill till golden brown. Serve hot with tea or pack in aluminum foil and enjoy on the trip!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Pesto Pasta Salad


As the temperature goes up, the desire to be in the kitchen goes down. This simple summer salad is the answer. Instead of hot pasta this is a cold pasta dish which is flavorful, fresh and colorful. It has simple ingredients and can be made in a jiffy. Some pasta shapes are easier to coat than others, I used farfalle, bow-tie pasta as they are better in this dish. For some saltiness, I use feta cheese which has a bite and goes well with the basil notes of the pesto. Cherry tomatoes are little bombs of flavor. They have the concentrated taste of tomato in each small bite. Buy the snack variety and preferably organic as they will be eaten raw. 

Ingredients:

3 cups pasta, bow-tie pasta preferred
1/2 cup basil pesto (or more if you like)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, split in half
1/3 cup feta cheese crumbled
In a large pot boil about 9 cups of water till it comes to a rolling boil. Add salt and pasta and cook till al dente. It should take about 8-9 minutes. Drain the pasta, place in a large bowl and add the pesto to it. Toss well to cover evenly. Add the tomatoes and half the cheese and mix well. To serve sprinkle some cheese on top and enjoy!

I had sent this recipe to Nithu's Kitchen as a guest post. It was featured along with my interview

I am sending this to Red Chilies for a Light Lunch, her series for June.
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